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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Kevin Harvick on the pole for NASCAR's Round of 12 debut in Sin City

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season rolls the dice at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend with the South Point 400 on Sunday. This second date at Sin City's 1.5-mile oval was moved this year following a short stint as the sport's playoff opener. Instead, LVMS marks the first race in the Round of 12 for drivers still championship-eligible.

 

It's ironic that an area known for gambling will provide the most "predictable" track NASCAR visits during this portion of the playoffs. The next two weeks will feature the sport's most incalculable pack race at Talladega Superspeedway followed by just the third Cup race ever on Charlotte Motor Speedway's ROVAL. That makes LVMS an important opportunity for title favorites like Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, and Brad Keselowski to pad their stats just in case Lady Luck comes up snake eyes once they leave here.

 

All three will start up front as NASCAR's COVID-19 qualifying rules continue. Once again, all playoff drivers automatically fill out the top spots on the grid although their number has been reduced from 16 to 12. Former title contenders Ryan Blaney, William Byron, Cole Custer, and Matt DiBenedetto are shuffled back with the rest of the field, assigned starting spots according to a metric calculated by the formula below.

 

25% of the metric will be the driver's finishing position from the previous race.

25% of the metric will be the owner's finishing position from the previous race.

35% of the metric will be the owner's current position in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings.

15% of the metric will be their fastest lap during the previous race.

 

The totals leave Kevin Harvick sitting on the pole next to hometown favorite (and reigning Cup champ) Kyle Busch. Overall, just 39 teams are attempting the race, leaving one empty spot on the 40-car grid. The two full-time "open" teams of Gaunt Brothers Racing (No. 96) and MBM Motorsports (No. 66) showed up along with a second, part-time MBM entry (No. 49) driven by Cup rookie Chad Finchum.

 

1. Kevin Harvick (P)

2. Kyle Busch (P)

3. Chase Elliott (P)

4. Aric Almirola (P)

5. Joey Logano (P)

6. Clint Bowyer (P)

7. Austin Dillon (P)

8. Alex Bowman (P)

9. Kurt Busch (P)

10. Denny Hamlin (P)

11. Martin Truex Jr. (P)

12. Brad Keselowski (P)

13. Erik Jones

14. Tyler Reddick (R)

15. Ryan Blaney

16. Chris Buescher

17. Michael McDowell

18. Jimmie Johnson

19. Matt DiBenedetto

20. Matt Kenseth

21. Ryan Preece

22. Cole Custer (R)

23. Bubba Wallace

24. Ty Dillon

25. John Hunter Nemechek (R)

26. Christopher Bell (R)

27. Ryan Newman

28. William Byron

29. Daniel Suarez

30. Gray Gaulding (i)

31. Corey Lajoie

32. Quin Houff (R)

33. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

34. Joey Gase (i)

35. Brennan Poole (R)

36. Timmy Hill (i)

37. JJ Yeley (i)

38. Josh Bilicki (i)

39. Chad Finchum (i) (R)

 

(P) – Playoff Driver

(R) – Rookie

(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points

 

QUALIFYING NOTES

  • Kevin Harvick (1st) "earned" the pole for the third time in five races. He's seeking a career-best 10th win of the season, making him the first driver to hit double-digit Cup victories since Jimmie Johnson in 2007.
  • Kyle Busch (2nd) has his best start since sitting on the pole at Kentucky Speedway in July.
  • Martin Truex Jr. (11th) is the defending race winner.
  • Tyler Reddick (14th) is the highest-qualifying rookie as Cole Custer (22nd) was eliminated from the playoffs in the Round of 16.
  • William Byron (28th) has his worst start since May at Darlington Raceway.
  • Rookie Brennan Poole (35th) returns to the No. 15 Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing. He missed his first race of the season last week at Bristol Motor Speedway after sponsorship funding didn't materialize.
  • JJ Yeley (37th) moves to the No. 77 of Spire Motorsports this week, replacing Reed Sorenson. He's run six different car numbers in 2020 over the course of 28 starts.
  • Josh Bilicki (38th) jumps in the No. 53 for RWR this week, replacing rookie James Davison.
  • Rookie Chad Finchum (39th) will make just his second career Cup start in a second, part-time MBM Motorsports ride. It's the first time Finchum has run this car since February's Daytona 500 (DNQ).
  • NASCAR RACE BREAKDOWN

Race: South Point 400

Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Date: Sunday, Sept. 27

TV: NBCSN, 7 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 267 laps (400.5 miles)

Stage 1: 80 Laps

Stage 2: 80 Laps

Final Stage: 107 Laps

 

PRE-RACE PREVIEW

Michael Jordan owning a NASCAR team? Hosts Mike Neff and Dustin Albino break down his union with Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace before turning their attention to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Frontstretch podcast.

Event Date: 
Sunday, September 27, 2020 - 19:00
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